Can a simple act change one person's life? A village? A country?
Nicholas Kristof wrote on July 4 a column in The New York Times that stopped me in my tracks. The story is about a young woman, Beatrice Biira, and a goat.
Beatrice and her family lived in western Uganda. Her parents, impoverished peasants, could not afford to send her to school until fate, in the form of a goat, intervened. Children from the Niantic, Connecticut Community Church wanted to do good, so they donated goats to African villagers through Heifer International.
One of the goats, at a cost to the children of $120, went to Beatrice's parents. The goats had twins, and they eventually gave the family an income from their milk. This gave Beatrice the opportunity for schooling.
A diligent student, she worked fiercely to succeed. An American visiting her village met the young girl, which inspired a children's book,Beatrice's Goat . It became a best seller.
Beatrice's dedication to school paid off. She earned a series of scholarships: to the top girls' school in Uganda; a Massachusetts prep school and then Connecticut College, from which she graduated this spring.
Her next step is graduate school at the Clinton School of Public Service in Arkansas. Then she plans to return to Africa to help women increase their earning power.
While Kristof ended his piece: 'The challenges of global poverty are vast and complex,' I think that sometimes a simple action can change a life, a village and even a country. It may not even take millions of aid dollars, just hard work, serendipity and a small goat named Luck.
How wonderful that simple, joined with a determined human spirit, can be so powerful.